Gritty Islanders Keep Finding A Way, Win In Toronto
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TORONTO (AP) — Despite losing in overtime, the Toronto Maple Leafs were still pleased to get a point to maintain their fast start.
John Tavares scored a power-play goal at 3:26 of overtime to lift the New York Islanders past the Maple Leafs 2-1 on Monday night.
With Brett Lebda in the penalty box for goaltender interference, Tavares one-timed a shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Giguere finished with 18 saves.
“I just put my head down and tried to shoot it as hard as I could,” Tavares said. “I wasn’t even sure it went in … It was a great feeling.”
Leafs coach Ron Wilson called the penalty in overtime “marginal” and was also disappointed with the two goals the team had called back in regulation.
“A couple calls when completely against us,” Wilson said. “At this point, (it’s) crying over spilled milk. There’s nothing you can do.”
The players put a positive spin on a game that saw them score late in the third period to salvage a point — giving them nine of a possible 10 in a surprisingly strong start to the season.
Matt Moulson also scored for the Islanders, who are also off to a strong start despite injuries to regulars Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo and Trent Hunter.
Phil Kessel scored a power-play goal late in the third period for Toronto.
Kris Versteeg almost broke through late in the second period, but had his goal waived off because he was ruled to have knocked the puck down with a high stick prior to scoring. The call was made on the ice and couldn’t be reviewed using replay.
Instead, the Islanders maintained the 1-0 lead Moulson had given them at 2:17 of the second period. His third goal of the season came after he took a touch pass from Tavares and beat Giguere high with a backhand.
Toronto had a good opportunity to tie the score midway through the final period when Islanders forward Andrew MacDonald was sent off for holding. However, the Leafs failed to generate quality chances on the power play.
Shortly after it expired, Colby Armstrong appeared to score from behind the net when his shot deflected off Dwayne Roloson’s back. However, a lengthy video review showed the puck never crossed the goal line. Roloson made 29 saves.
“It’s just the way the game goes,” Lebda said. “Everything was a close call today. It was up and down … the refs are doing the best they can and they’re going to make mistakes like we do.”
Added captain Dion Phaneuf: “That’s the league’s job. It’s out of our hands.”
Kessel got Toronto on the board at 17:55 of the third on a power play. The winger connected on a shot after the puck deflected on to his stick, giving him five goals in five games.
“We all know that we’re not going to win them all,” Giguere said. “We’re going to face some challenges and stuff like that. The good thing is I can feel guys are mad, they’re irritated with the loss.”
Said Wilson: “Our guys never gave up. They played really well.”
Notes: Lebda replaced Carl Gunnarsson in the Leafs lineup, making his debut after signing as free agent over the summer. … Toronto forward John Mitchell was a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)